A Belgian sports journalist and former professional cyclist, Sven Spoormakers, has faced international criticism after making a sexist remark about a young female reporter covering a cycling race in Argentina.
Belén Mendiguren was interviewing a cyclist during the Vuelta a San Juan cycling race when Spoormakers shared a picture of her on his Twitter with the caption “@wielerman cannot compete with this… Or is it cool in Argentina?”
Spoormakers has since deleted the tweet, but it has been widely shared by other accounts.
Live blog: Cycling world condemns comments made by Belgian journalist Sven Spoormakers about the clothing of a female reporter. When challenged he replied: “If I would interview a female athlete with my balls out, you’d be joking about it too”. https://t.co/tNwk1uijEz #cycling pic.twitter.com/48sU22wbH5
— road.cc (@roadcc) January 30, 2020
Australian journalist Sophie Smith immediately responded, criticised him for his comment and engaging him in a discussion about sexism.
Spoormakers, however, continued to place blame on Mendiguren, claiming that “she knows exactly what she’s wearing – or not wearing.” However, Spoormakers replies have also been deleted.
In a follow-up tweet, Mendiguren used the opportunity to draw attention to the complex gender issues behind the comments.
Thank you Sophie, it’s gonna take time, but I really hope men will finally understand that this kind of comments are a complex gender issue. We live with this kind of gender violence since we r born. I invite everyone to ask your closest female friends about it as a first step. https://t.co/o0X0k7faGY
— Belén Mendiguren (@lelumendy) January 30, 2020
Spoormakers later shared another tweet in which he apologised for the comment, claiming it was meant to be “a funny remark”.
What was meant to be a funny remark, turned out to be offensive to a lot of people. That was bad judgement. Sorry. And to @lelumendy in particular: we never met, but if you’re ever in Belgium, you’re welcome to discover I’m not the brontosaurus you think I am.
— Sven Spoormakers (@SvenSpoormakers) January 30, 2020
This comes a year after Belgian racing cyclist Iljo Keisse was thrown off the same race for sexually harassing a waitress. Keisse’s father afterwards claimed that the waitress was “suggestive with her ass,” reports The Independent.
The Brussels Times